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Letters to the Editor: Treating stillbirths as potential murders would open a Pandora’s box

Jennifer Hernandez  shows a picture of her daughter Chelsea Becker on her phone.
(Tomas Ovalle / For The Times)

To the editor: You’re on a slippery slope as soon as you apply the legal term “murder” to something that happened inside the womb. (“Drug users delivering stillbirths could face murder rap if this California case advances,” Aug. 4)

Once, between my two successful pregnancies, I sought medical attention when I had some unexplained mid-cycle vaginal bleeding. I was told that I had possibly miscarried an early-term pregnancy, but the doctors didn’t order the test that would have shown whether I had been pregnant.

They only did a test that showed I was no longer pregnant, saying the other test was unnecessary because there was nothing that could medically be done if there was no ongoing pregnancy.

If “murder” could apply in utero, wouldn’t it be necessary to always do that second test? And to issue a death certificate for every verified miscarriage, stating the cause of death? Wouldn’t it always raise the possibility that the woman might have done something that contributed?

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Is this really what society needs, especially considering how common miscarriages are?

Carol Wuenschell, Arcadia

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To the editor: I can’t believe we are still debating the whether Chelsea Becker should be charged over her actions, which was found to have resulted in the stillbirth of her son.

With a history of addiction to methamphetamine, Becker delivered the stillborn baby with a toxic level of meth in his (the baby’s) bloodstream, proving that Becker was still using until at or near the time of delivery.

Opponents of her indictment claim that convicting her will make every woman who suffers a late-term miscarriage the potential target of a homicide investigation. That argument is ridiculous. However, if other women opt to continue to use drugs while pregnant and the result is a dead baby, I see no problem charging them as well.

If Becker had delivered a healthy baby who instead died while she was driving drunk, would the opponents of her case defend her as well? Both scenarios involve a choice by the mother that results in the baby’s death — what’s the difference?

If Becker’s actions are truly beyond her control, what is to keep her from doing this again? At least a conviction could prevent her from repeating this tragedy.

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Jeff Pressman, Bell Canyon


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